Palatine, Illinois

Remodeling a Campus Library with Moveable Shelving

Creating open space for endless possibilities at Harper College's campus library.
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A Commitment to Learning

On most campuses, the library is a lively hub of learning and collaboration. But students and faculty at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, found that working in the old campus library was more about endurance than enjoyment. The aging building hadn’t been remodeled in more than 20 years, and it was dark, overcrowded, and noisy. Perhaps most importantly, the building’s labyrinthine layout made it difficult for students to find their way around.

"We needed to find a better place for them to learn."

- Njambi Kamoche, Dean, Resources for Learning

flexible university library design

An Open, Flexible Concept

When the campus acquired funds to renovate the library, faculty and staff knew exactly what they wanted: flexible, student-centered spaces that would take advantage of natural light and expansive views. They also wanted a space to secure the college’s archives, which were growing steadily every year.

The planning committee worked with the Chicago-based Spacesaver distributorship to design shelving that not only stored books and other printed materials, but that also coordinated with the team’s design goals.

modern library space planning
The planning committee wanted more flexible spaces and a brighter, more open feel.

Counter-Height Library Shelving Creates Bright, Flexible Spaces

The library’s main level is bright, open, and busy. The planning team wanted to provide casual collaboration spaces on this level, along with access to popular periodicals, digital media, graphic novels, and other materials. Counter-height cantilever shelving contributes to the open feel, allowing natural light from large windows to fill the space. A-frame carts provide storage and display for DVDs and other media. Flexible Shelving that is fitted with Concealed Caster Bases, that allow staff to move their shelves when they want to repurpose the space.

counter height library shelving
modern library shelving university space planning
The third floor is dedicated to independent research and quiet study. Tall cantilever shelving units house the majority of the library’s collection, and study carrels offer privacy.

Custom End Panels

Throughout the library, Spacesaver shelving was fitted with custom end panels that integrate with the rest of the building’s interior design. The result is a sleek, clean look that unifies the facility while also providing convenient access to the library’s collection.

custom library shelving finishes

Library ‘Carts’ for Any Setting

Moveable library shelving can look and function much like a library cart, or the casters can be concealed for a more streamlined appearance.

library shelving hidden wheels flexible shelving

Flexible Shelving on Concealed Casters - Best for Infrequent Moves

library shelving hidden wheels flexible shelving

A-Frame Shelving on Visible Casters - Best for Frequent Moves

A Secure Space for Campus Archives

The design team also worked with the local Spacesaver consultant to design a secure area to house the college’s archives and special collections.

Archives with Room to Grow

The planning committee chose 4-Post shelving mounted on a high-density mobile system to store archival boxes and printed materials. The archives were designed with room to grow. Some of the high-density storage shelves are currently empty, awaiting future acquisitions.

secure archival library storage
library shelving door cabinet

Shelving with doors create budget-friendly ‘cabinets’

The archivist also needed to store odd-sized items including plaques, dinnerware, and other objects associated with the institution’s history. Due to budget considerations, and because the objects didn’t need the more extensive protection offered by museum cabinets, the planning committee chose Spacesaver’s 4-Post shelving units fitted with doors and museum trays. The trays fully extend, allowing researchers to view objects without disturbing them, and the doors have keyed locks to provide an additional layer of security.

Canvass the Campus

Universities are like small cities, with a variety of facilities from libraries and sports arenas to police departments and hospitals. That’s why campus space management is so important, download our guide for more information and ideas.